Monday, June 27, 2011

Gift ideas... to bring home to your friends and family

I know I said I would finish my blogging, but I thought of one more post I wanted to get out there. Before I left for Japan, I did a blog post with a list of what I had purchased to bring to Japan- I went back and updated that list with comments.

When we were in Japan, we also purchased some gifts for ourselves, friends, family, and co-workers to bring back to the States- here is what we purchased... hopefully it can give you some ideas of what you can give as gifts back home!
  • Make sure to check out this post to see some of my favorite items I brought back with me. When we were deciding on what to bring back with us to the States, most of our gifts were specific to the individual, but for some general ideas, the items are listed in this post
  • I also did a Japanese food post on some of my favorite snacks and drinks in Japan
  • I also have some additional items I need to buy when I visit Japan the next time at the bottom of this post
Just about any of the items listed in the links above and below can be found at any grocery store in Japan. Whenever possible, I will add a hyperlink (from to show you what the candy/packaging looks like. I've been seeing that the packages on Amazon don't accurately reflect the packaging in Japan, but it'll give you a general jist of what the brand looks like....

  • Japanese candy- Mitsuya Cider is a popular drink in Japan, and they have the hard candy versions- they are delicious! They come in various flavors- regular, grape, white cider, etc. Everyone loved trying the different flavors, and every single flavor was awesome
  • Japanese osenbei- Japanese rice snacks are widely popular in Japan. Lots of flavors and sizes to choose from
  • Jyagalico- If you've been reading my blog, you probably read my post on these snacks-turned-instant-mashed-potatoes. As a snack AND mashed potatoes, these were delicious! We tried several flavors, but we loved the "Salad" and "Cheese Curry" flavors the most (as a snack), and loved the "Salad" flavor for the instant mashed potatoes
  • Chips- Japan has many unique flavors (beef consomme, corn chowder, Japanese curry to name a few) of chips and salty snacks
  • Gummi snacks- These gummi snacks are widely popular in Japan, and I love how true-to-flavor they are, and they are very soft
  • Umeboshi-flavored snacks- Umeboshi are Japanese picked plum, and I love the flavor and it's distinctly Japanese. I am currently eating an umeboshi-flavored gum by Lotte and it is good! I can't find anything ume-flavored here in the States, but I will warn you that not it wasn't the most popular flavor amongst my co-workers (more for me!)
  • Melon-flavored snacks- You will see that melon-flavored anything (candy, soda, ice cream, etc) are popular in Japan, so pick up some melon-flavored candy, gum, gummi candies, etc!
  • Mints- Japan has so many mint flavors that aren't just the ol' peppermint, spearmint, cinnamint, etc. They have fun flavors like Apple Ginger Ale, Blueberry Mint, Mandarin Orange, etc. 
  • Bisco- Quite possibly one of my favorite Japanese cookies ever! These are little cream-filled sandwich cookies with either a white creamy filling (kind of reminds me of the cream filling in Oreos but not as sweet) or a strawberry cream filling. They are so SO good~!
Japanese chocolate snacks- Yep, there were so many of them that people liked, I'm giving it its own category
  • Koala no March- These are koala-shaped cookies with either a chocolate (green packaging) or strawberry chocolate (pink packaging) insides. I used to eat these as a child, but they're still popular in Japan (and was very popular among my friends)
  • Kinoko no Yama- These snacks are similar to the "koala no march" snacks, but instead they have a cookie-based stem and a chocolate top. (Kinoko means mushroom in Japanese.) We just ate this last night, and wished we had purchased more
  • Pocky- These chocolate sticks can be found easily at Asian grocery stores in the States, but you can find so much more variety of flavors in Japan. Strawberry, coconut, mint, nuts, and all are yummy
  • (There are other ones out there but I'm getting a blank on it right now. Japanese chocolate cookie snacks are so good, you can't go wrong)
Japanese stationery
  • Pilot FriXion pens, markers, highlighters- These went over really well, and this is one of the gifts I purchased for the husbands of friends. I purchased them at Tokyu Hands, which are department stores located all throughout Japan. What I love about these pens are the erasers- Yes, erasers! The "eraser" is at the top of the pen and it erases unbelievably well. My friends were in awe, and loved the pens! They also write very well, come in different "tips" (0.3- extra fine, 0.5- very fine, 0.7 fine), and come in a variety of colors
  • (The stationery in Japan is unbelievable- items you just can't find here in the States. There is a large stationery store in Ginza called Itoya, and it has 2 floors of just stationery and stationery supplies- I wish I could have taken more pictures at Itoya, but I only took a few... If you're looking for something fun and unique, definitely check this stationery store out. You can also check out Tokyu Hands department store, and other smaller stationery stores will have good selections as well)
Japanese beauty items
  • OXY Charcoal face wash- This was another gift I purchased for the husbands of friends. So far, the reviews have been positive. Both my uncle and 17yo cousin use it, so I figured it'd be a safe bet for male friends
  • Salon PAS- These are pain-relieving patches that you adhere to your skin. Since I had a sprained ankle, I would take a shower at night and then apply the patch prior to bed. It has an eucalyptus scent to it, but man, does it ever feel good and helped with the aching. You can find these at any pharmacy in Japan
  • VS Vidal Sassoon Premium Care Shampoo- My favorite shampoo in Japan
Japanese housewares
  • Bento box- Most Japanese pack their lunch for school or work, and they all have bento boxes. Some even come in sets where you can purchase corresponding bento box, chopstick/chopstick holder, and a small bag to carry it all in. Very Japanese! They range from cute animated designs for children to more sophisticated designs and colors for adults
  • Oil guard splatter screen- We love this and use this regularly at our home. I love how it can wrap around your saute pan and won't get grease everywhere. You can buy various sizes and heights- perfect for any kitchen and all cooks
  • Chopsticks
Japanese clothes
  • Tutu-Anna socks- The Japanese sure knows their socks, and there are so many cute pairs here. They have stand-alone shops, and they're also located in malls
  • UNIQLO clothes- I thought this store was only in Japan, but apparently there is a store in NYC as well. This is similar to USA's Gap clothing store. In Japan, they are considered reasonable prices for quality clothes
  • Cell phone charms- Darin didn't feel truly Japanese until he purchased a cell phone charm. You will see that every.single.Japanese have charms dangling from their cell phones. Darin only has 1 on his phone, but this is abnormal- most people have at least 4-5 charms
  • Miyazaki gifts- We went to Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli Museum, and it was fantastic. Even Darin, who had no notion of his films or animation, truly enjoyed it. One of Miyazaki's most famous characters is a mythical creature called Totoro. You can purchase hand towels, charms, plush dolls- just about anything with the Totoro character. Miyazaki is very famous in Japan, and his characters can be found at many large department stores and toy stores
Sumo-inspired items
  • Sumo statue- Perfect for your boss or co-workers (read: desk toy) or just a fun and cute decoration for your home. Darin and I saw this at the Nakamise Shopping Street at Sensoji Temple, and I am still kicking myself for not buying it. I love the sumo wrestler with one of his legs up in the air. I bet I won't be able to find it the next time I go (which won't be for a long time), but if you're looking for one, it is there. I remember it being in a glass enclosure on one of the corner shops at Nakamise Shopping Street. This specific store also sold these cute Japanese dolls, as well as small samurai dolls as well.    If anyone is able to get ahold of it, I will pay you back!
  • Sumo Tenugui- We loved the sumo print on this tenugui (handkerchief)
  • Sumo "cap"- We thought this cap was hilarious, and any boy (or even adult) will think it is funny. We saw this particular one at Toy Park in Ginza

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